For Love of DaDs

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We have a new logo for the stillbirthday family.  It’s for dads.

Here is the M0M logo:

 

We started with the zero candle lit at the cemetery, with the angel food cake.

That zero candle became the symbol of stillbirthday, that we honor and bring light to the hidden and unseen zeroes of pregnancy and infant loss.  That our agonies and heartbreaks and our hopes and wishes count.

We wrapped around it and M0M was born.  The reality that our motherhood isn’t over when our child’s life ends, but that these feelings we have, we nurture them and shape them and in bereavement, we Mother Our Mourning.

And, as we know, that is how the actual headquarters of stillbirthday took shape – an actual location, for families who are experiencing and who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.  A place to rest, shop, create, collaborate, heal and grow.  Visit www.healingbirthcenter.com to learn more (and remember, even in the web address, the zero is still in the center, and is what everything grows from).

Now, we have a DAD logo.

But unlike the M0M logo, it isn’t a simple one phrase message.  It’s actually a little bit more broken up – it’s 3 different words, that come together as a step by step guide for fathers enduring pregnancy and infant loss.

These three words were really hard to decide on.

They are hard to read and understand.

Which is entirely appropriate.  Because you know what?  They’re really hard to do.

As a mother, as a woman, I can get easily tempted to blame my man for the difficulties in parenthood, in our marriage, and in life.

It can be easy to say, “JUST DO IT THIS WAY!”

But that isn’t fair to my man’s authentic journey.  And, as such, turns out isn’t very fair to me, either.

So, ladies, if you’re holding your breath hoping I’m going to publish some verbal slam against your man, you’re my sister and my friend and I adore you I promise and I know that feeling of anger unleashed – but, that’s not what’s going to happen here.

These words bring validation and direction and awe to the masculine journey of bereavement.

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Before I share it, let me explain it.

Because there is a great deal of intention and careful, mindful attention to detail behind this.

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The first word

The first word is going to cause you to read it and go “what??”  And that is the point.  This is the very first reaction to loss.  “What??”   –

What in the world are you saying?  What is happening?  What does this mean?  What are we going to do?  What am I supposed to do now?

And then, you’re going to look it up.  I can just about promise, that you’re going to look it up.  Go ahead, I won’t laugh.

You’re going to look it up, because you don’t know what it means, but you believe that there’s a definition out there.  Some place that knows what to do.  Ladies, we think guys don’t ask for directions but the truth is, men know that there is guidance out there, and there are moments that propel them to have to ask for help.  It isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, it isn’t something for us to smear in their faces.  See?  You’re looking up the word, too.  And he’s not smacking his lips about it.  Let us exercise humility toward our men, as painful and frustrating and annoying as it might feel sometimes.  As stoic as he may appear when he learns his baby is not alive, he’s asking a lot of questions in his head.  So before we jump into things you think I’m going to say men need to do, let’s give them a real break and realize that from the very beginning, everything is new to him.  Uncomfortable, uncertain, foreign, new.  If you’re clawing to rip feelings out just to prove to him that they’re in there, you’re wasting your energy and you’re wasting your love.  They’re in there, from the beginning.  He promises, and so do I.

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The second word

Alright, alright.  So the first word actually includes two actions, or two tasks.  The first was to look up, right?  To try to decipher what in the world you’re seeing in front of you.  It is a constant action that actually defines the beginning of men, and is something we as women quite often and quite frankly miss.  He’s always trying to figure out the what.  It’s how he knows to lead you.  And then, the word itself, it is an action.  Deosculate means to kiss.

It’s an action, that in the doing, causes the guy to draw near to the gal.  Actual, physical, presence.  Nearness.  Proximity.  Physical closeness and connection.  Because when a woman delivers the news to her man that their child is not alive, a million antennae flood up even in her smeared makeup and disheveled, crumpling brokenness.  She is parched for affirmation that he is not recoiling from, rejecting, or abandoning her.  That he can look up and admit that he doesn’t know what to do or what this means, but that he also already has something irreplaceable and that this moment is unforgettable.  And, dads, it’s important that you know you have permission to offer this very same action to your baby.  Yes, you can kiss your baby.  In all perspectives here – psychological, social, marital – in all ways, the truth is consistent and it is this – parents can bond with our babies who aren’t alive.  Dads, your physical presence is an irreplaceable gift.  You, nothing more.  Not what you bring, not what you know.  Just, you.  I promise, you are enough.

So we get into the second word.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie from the clip “the dude abides” – but if you have, it instantly conjures up the layed back, hippie guy who really goes through some rough stuff.

Abide can mean obey, but it can also mean endure.  To stay.  Don’t run.  Guys, don’t run.  You’re going to want to – from the earliest moments, finding excuses to leave the bedside of your wife, to later, finding reasons to tinker in the garage or stay late after work or to just not get close to these feelings, to this place, to this darkness, any more.  To use your masculine power to plunge and propel and drive away from it.  Don’t.  It doesn’t work well.  Not for you, not for her, not for your health.  I promise.  Moving away is to flee from how.  And how is terrifying, when you’re still not sure about all the what’s.

How do I tell my boss?  How do I tell my folks?  How do we get through this?  How the hell do I get away from all of this???

A second note about the second word –

See how the “a” slants?  Our zero has never done that before.  It’s not bold and strong.  Split in your mind, for a moment, the zero of the “a” from the stem of the “a” that holds it in place.  Let’s call the zero part the difficult part of things, the emotional part of things, and by reflection, often the “mom” or woman part of things.  See it leaning on the stem.  Let’s call the stem the man.  The stem, he’s not erect.  Not bold.  But don’t you dare for a second think that he’s not strong.  See her leaning into him.  See the pain and torment and hurt leaning into him.  He feels it, sisters.  He feels the crushing when we cry.  But just when you think you have to hide your feelings to save your marriage, just when he thinks your drama is going to make him crazy, just when the two of you are certain that you are being ripped apart and broken, hold on, y’all.  The “a” may look different.  The middle may make you feel small and it may look real messy and it may feel like it’s going on forever, but I promise, it can lift.  Y’all can lift each other up, and can rise, together.

 

And then the final word

After all that, the D rises and is firm again.  But it’s not the same – no, that first D is a whole “a” away.  But through the journey, men rise again, as proven, strong, dependable.  And that brings us to the third word.  There is no task checklist for men in grief.  There’s no simple formula.  No running away is going to make things right.  So this strong man who carries on, who abides, he accepts that he can’t instruct her through this but that somehow, she’s been given some supernatural treasures for healing that she can share with him, too.  That he can still lead her, but also give her permission.  Guys, when you’re feeling annoyed, frustrated, angry, don’t run.  Don’t bulldoze.  Don’t blast through.   You are not responsible for conjuring up the truth to your situation, to your needs or to your wife’s needs.  I promise, you don’t have to conjure up the path toward sanity and it won’t work to pluck her up and try to plant her feet onto the path toward quickest silence.  Hear me – it won’t work.  Guys, you are given one thing in bereavement.  You are given only one thing.  And it’s the kind of thing you’d generally miss because you wouldn’t know to be waiting for it.  But I promise you, as unique and personal and intimate as your experience is, you, as the masculine person in your marriage, as the dad, you are given one thing in bereavement.  And, believe me, you need it.  Your marriage needs it.  It is a gift, in fact it is given as a million different gifts that you’ll receive for the rest of your life.  Some big, some so subtle that you stare at them for years before they finally reveal a microscopic shift in the light that totally transforms it right in front of you.    Before you get all excited, I will give you a few words about this gift.  You want the gift to be knowing.  To know why or how or when or what.  Just as sure as I am that you’re given a gift, I am absolutely sure the gift isn’t knowing.  It’s really not, no matter how much you know or want to know.  Because knowing is fast.  And this journey, it just isn’t.  But your gift might be understanding, which is huge, or it might be real acceptance, peace, it might be clarity of a divinely inspired variety, it might be hope.  If you followed the little directions all along and began by being willing to look up, and then kissed her, the gift might just be of connection.  You will have a gift.  Maybe a million different gifts, but you will receive at least just one.

This gift, these gifts, they are wrapped up in the same packaging.  That packaging, is always going to be discovery.  The gifts waiting for you are wrapped in discovery.  So here’s one specific rule of thumb: if you don’t know what the gift is yet, then you haven’t fully unwrapped it.  If you haven’t fully unwrapped it, then by the law of discovery, you are required to sit with it just a little bit more.  If what you see isn’t good, then you haven’t fully unwrapped it.  And if what you see isn’t fully good, and you haven’t fully unwrapped it yet, then don’t rush to act on it yet.  Listen.  Discover.  And while you’re sitting there, share with your wife what it is you think you see, what you think is happening.  Ask her to help you unwrap it.  She will not think you are a coward, wimp, or any less of a leader.  She will see you as who you are: a hero, a courageous person not because you are always strong and erect, but because she’s seen you look up, she’s seen you bend, she’s seen you carry, she’s seen you fall apart because in the doing, the two of you stay together.  And you rise, stronger for it.  See that light shining through from above?  It dries the tears that fall in the abiding.   It’s all part of the gift, and it’s all part of the journey.

Deosculate, Abide, Discover

 

You can also take a look at the DaD Shop, or more importantly, check out more support we have for the guys.

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Comments

  1. Gil Villarreal says:

    Beautiful.

    Just beautiful.

    My eyes are wet and my heart is soft as I reflect on what you’ve written above.

    “These words bring validation and direction and awe to the masculine journey of bereavement.”

    Yes. They do.

    Thank you Heidi.

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